Welcome to the Starting Homeschool Preschool Series. This is post #1.
1.Peaceful Days with a Child-Led Homeschool Preschool
2.Is Project-Based Preschool For You?
3. A Typical Day in Our Child-Led Homeschool Preschool
Imagine waking up every morning eager to start the day. You spend your time learning, exploring, and playing all while enjoying the peaceful flow of the day.
You eat breakfast, do a few chores around the house then start to explore right alongside your littles. While outside your kiddo finds a ladybug which sparks an interest. You head inside to find some YouTube videos on ladybugs. After nap, you have an art invitation set up where your littles can create their own ladybug. All this exploring leads to hundreds of questions about ladybugs.
Related: What is an Invitation?
That night you review the questions then decide what you will do tomorrow to help your kiddos discover the answers to their questions. All this mixed with some good old fashion playing.
Related: The Importance of Play
Homeschool preschool doesn’t have to be complicated or take a lot of time. We only spend 30 minutes a day with structured learning time. The rest of our day is full of playing, exploring interests, and learning how to be a contributing member of society.
Here at Sicily’s Heart & Home, we focus on simple child-led activities that promote peaceful days and a strong love of learning. And you’re probably already doing a lot of what homeschool preschool should be already.
Peaceful Homeschool Preschool Days…Really?
Yes, Beautiful Mama! Your preschool at home days can be peaceful. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, materials, or prepping.
The first thing that needs to happen for these peaceful days is to learn to trust your child. I know you’re worrying, Mama! You’re not sure if your teaching everything that needs to be taught, or if you child is meeting milestones. The kid down the street knows all his letters, but yours only knows 3. The worrying never stops.
Every child has their own unique learning timeline. What we place in their environment and the experiences we provide them is what ultimately shapes that timeline. A parent who reads their own books will have a child who loves to read.
Related: What to Teach My Child and When to Teach It
Learn how to use your environment to encourage and motivate your little to learn the things you want them to learn. Then trust that your child will learn the skills when they are ready and motivated. Learning is not a race. The first person to learn something is not always the smartest.
Another aspect of peaceful days is following your children’s natural rhythm. Have a routine, but a loose structure to it. If your child is engaged in their play, don’t stop them to eat lunch. Or if your child doesn’t have an interest in an activity you set up, don’t force it. It all goes back to the trust. Your child will learn what needs to be learned on their own time as long as you provide an environment that supports and values learning and playing.
Related: How to Create an Encouraging Home Preschool Environment
What to Learn During Homeschool Preschool
As I mentioned before, every child has their own unique learning timeline. The basic skills to be taught during preschool are the same for everyone, but when those skills are learned can vary depending on the environment and the experiences each child has.
These are the most important things to learn during the preschool years. In my opinion, if a child only learns these life skills during the early years, he’ll be ready for anything.
Life skills include:
-Working with others/ Social skills
-Following directions/ Respect/ Responsibility
-Being a contributing member of the house/ Cleaning
Many of these skills are not taught in isolation. They must be taught through modeling during real life situations and consistency.
The main focus of our toddler years was developing motor skills, especially fine motor. But this needs to continue through the preschool years. Being able to control the body helps in regulating emotions and performing everyday tasks. And not to mention keeps them healthy and physically fit.
Fine motor skills are essential to writing, reading, and simple everyday tasks. Usually when a child refuses or struggles to write, it simple means their fine motor skills are not developed enough.
Related: Physical Development
Every week I lay out some fine motor skill work such as lacing, threading, and playdough. And of course we head outside everyday even if it’s for 5 minutes to splash in the puddles during a rainstorm.
Academics for the Homeschool Preschooler
This is the big one. When mama’s usually think about homeschool preschool, their first thought is the academics. How am I going to teach my preschooler all the letters, to read, and to write? Oh and don’t forget how to count, add, subtract, patterns, measuring…the list goes on and on.
I’m going to say it again, Mama…
Every child has their own unique learning timeline. When you place academic materials in their environment and show them how you use the skills in your everyday life, they will naturally become motivated and eager to learn it. It’s important to remember that sometimes it may take a few months for that motivation to sink in whereas others may take a few minutes.
If your child isn’t showing an interest in the materials in their environment within a week or so, think of a different way you can present it. Many times they just need to see you using the skill in real life. And other times, they won’t gain that motivation until they need that skill to learn about something that interests them.
Trust the process, Mama. Academic learning should be loosely structured, but only when your child is ready. Integrate academics with interests as much as possible. Now that doesn’t mean create 10 math and letter games that use trucks. You want the integration to be as natural as possible to show your child that the skill is essential to life.
And remember, your child is naturally learning academic skills by watching you in real life situations and through their own play.
I think nourishing curiosities is the second most important aspect behind life skills. Not only are they learning about the world and what interests them, but they are learning academics as well.
In our home, we follow a project based approach to learning about interests. I choose unit studies based on Sicily’s interests and the things happening in our world.
Some times if we are in a time of transition between interests, I will strew a few things to spark or test a few interests.
At the beginning of the preschool years, I plan the activities for our project. I use The Preschool Experience Curriculum to gather my activities. The goal is to work towards her being able to supplement some of my activities with her own thoughts and projects on how she wants to learn about her interests.
By providing a wide variety of activities from The Preschool Experience Curriculum, Sicily is being exposed to different ways of learning. So as she develops a strong love of learning and deeper interests, she will be able to create her own learning opportunities.
At this point, I begin to step back a bit and let her take more of the lead. I become more of a mentor and material provider than an activity provider.
The most important thing to remember is your child will not want to do every activity you set up. Let them decide what, when, and for how long to do an activity.
When we give them this freedom, they develop a strong love of learning because they get to choose what works best for them and interests them the most. When we begin to force activities, the child begins to associate learning with a negative emotion.
How to Learn During Homeschool Preschool
I’ve touched on this throughout this whole post, but just to recap…
You want to provide an encouraging environment that provides multiple and meaningful exposures to skills and interests. You can read more on how to do that in this post.
Provide experiences where your child is exposed to new things. Every month we go on one field trip. This past month we went to the science center and next month we are going to a child’s discovery museum. They don’t have to be extravagant either. A simple trip to the fire station or apple farm is enough to spark curiosities and nourish new interests.
Make learning part of real life as much as possible. Let your child see you use basic skills in the things you do such as writing a grocery list and using math skills to cook dinner or pay bills.
And most importantly, just play. Free play should take the majority of your day. This is where true learning happens. It’s a free time for them to process information, build problem solving and critical thinking skills, and relax.
Peaceful homeschool preschool days are possible. And I want to help you get started in the next week. Click the image below to join the Homeschool Preschool Quick Start where I’ll teach you how to get set up, how to plan, and how to implement your days so you can have peaceful days full of learning and exploring.